How to celebrate Shakespeare: A round-up of the cultural events taking place this weekend

This weekend marks the 400th anniversary of the world's greatest playwright

Elisa Bray
Friday 22 April 2016 16:31 BST
Shakespeare circa 1600
Shakespeare circa 1600 (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Shakespeare’s Dead, Bodleian’s Weston Library, Oxford, Until 18 September

The ways in which Shakespeare presents dying, death and the dead in his plays are explored at the Shakespeare’s Dead exhibition at Oxford University's Bodleian Library. It’ll show how “Shakespeare channelled the universal fear of death into dramatic moments”, says curator and English professor Emma Smith. The exhibition features a replica of Desdemona’s deathbed alongside gems from the Bodleian’s collections including Shakespeare’s First Folio and the earliest editions of Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare Birthday Celebration Parade, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Saturday, 10.30am

Join the traditional Shakespeare Birthday Parade through the Bard’s home town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. Expect characters from his works in period dress accompanied by marching bands as they troop through the centre, past buildings that were part of Shakespeare’s life and completing the walk at the Holy Trinity Church, on the banks of the river Avon, where he was laid to rest.

Late at the Library: World Book Night Celebrates Shakespeare, British Library, London, Saturday, 19.30-22.30

Broadcaster Trevor MacDonald, actress June Brown and poet John Agard will read their favourite Shakespearean passages, Passion in Practice Shakespeare Ensemble will perform classic scenes alongside pieces commissioned by acclaimed theatre companies Graeae and The Big House, and folk duo The Askew Sisters will provide live music. Plus “Shakespearean club sounds” from DJ Muzz Khan and themed cocktails taken from new book Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for your Everyday Dramas.

Shakespeare in Ten Acts, British Library, London, until 6 September

Examining cultural obsession with Shakespeare throughout the ages, the British Library’s exhibition presents the moments in history which changed the course of the Bard's legacy from the debut performance of Hamlet at the Globe in around 1600. The highs and lows in Shakespeare’s reputation are explored from the adoration surrounding his work in the 18th century to Tolstoy stating his “complete disagreement with this universal adulation”. The exhibition explores performance including the origins of special effects, costumes, props and reinterpretations to adapt to the times.<>

The Complete Walk, London, Saturday and Sunday

A host of stars including Gemma Arterton, Simon Russell Beale and Dominic West appear in the short films to be screened along the Thames stretching the 2.5 miles from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge. Each of the 37 ten-minute films explores one of Shakespeare’s plays, with scenes shot in his imagined locations: Cleopatra at the Pyramids and Hamlet on the rocks of Elsinore. Highlights include Arterton in the excerpt of Love’s Labour’s Lost, filmed at Royal Palace of Olite, in Navarre, Spain, screened in front of the National Theatre (Arterton made her stage debut as Rosaline in the play at the Globe Theatre), and Russell Beale in Timon of Athens. Ruth Wilson, David Harewood, Peter Capaldi, Meera Syal, Samuel West and Olivia Williams also star.

Sonnet Walks, London, Friday to Sunday

Take part in a two-hour walk devoted to Shakespeare. Mark Rylance - the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe from 1995 to 2005 - started the Sonnet Walks more than 20 years ago, where actors bring Shakespearean sonnets and speeches to life at historic places along the streets of Westminster and the City, and finishing at the Globe. This weekend there’s the first evening walk in addition to two daytime walks.

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